A common theme that I've been hearing of late is "How can I get really good at NLP?, I don't have any time to attend practice groups or there are none near me, what can I do?"
So really what people are asking is how can I get good at NLP, on autopilot? This is really a good question.
The Army have a good phrase, it goes "whatever you train to do, is what comes out the other end". Simply put this means whatever you rehearse and practice over and over will be the output you achieve when you go to use it for real.
In reality you want to get your NLP skills where you can do them without needing to remember "what comes next?" etc, where they are some practiced you can do them on que without even thinking and just trust your unconscious mind will do a great job.
Regardless of what skill level you are at right now there are only a handful of things you need to do, in order to "automatically" get good. Here are
1. Set a clear goal for yourself. This may be as simple as getting twice as good as you are right now within six months. Keep it in sensory specific terms, so if your 'thing' is hypnosis, then you may decide that you can enduce a trance conversationally in 90 seconds etc. If it's change work, it might be that you can change a phobia in 5 minutes and change a more 'complex' problem within x number of sessions etc.
Whatever you decide it to be, just make sure you have a clear goal in mind. Even a broad goal as get twice as good, without a sensory based representation, will help get your brain tracking this as an important thing to do.
2. Drop the comparison and 'ego' attitude that is common in NLP
NLP seems to have a unique effect of attracting lots of people who it appears think it is all about being 'better, slicker or smarter' than the next person. You are improving your skills for YOURSELF, at your rate. If someone can do something that you can't yet, then cool, get curious and go figure it out (perhaps with their help). Just remember you are improving your skills for yourself .. and whatever outcome you hold important (which might include helping others). The bottom line is drop any arrogance or thinking you KNOW IT. This is one of the biggest blocks I commonly see that blocks people from getting what they want.
When you do this, you free yourself up to learn from everyone and don't trick your mind to thinking you have anything (at least until you can do it several different ways!).
3. Practice (And Practice Some More)
This is obvious, but uncommon! In order to get good at anything you need to practice. You could say you will practice 5 minutes or 50 minutes every day, but in most cases unless you are a displined kind of person this won't work. You have your life to lead and you're busy enough as it is … so then the solution is MAKE EVERYTHING YOU DO, THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE AND PRACTICE NLP.
Suddenly when you approach learning NLP from this way EVERYTHING becomes an opportunity to improve you skills. So if you are talking to a friend you might be listening from the dominant 'frame of reference' they are coming from or if you are out at dinner you become fascinated to hear different strategies and processes at work.
The other day I visited a friend who had just had her first baby and as she was showing me all the photo's of the delivery that had happened six weeks earlier, she said something caught my attention. While holding the photo of her newborn, she said: "Gee that's so STRANGE, that picture FEELS like it happened a YEAR ago". Instantly I was curious to know more and asked her husband, how long it felt for him, for which he said "4-6 weeks". I am always very curious when I hear of natural contexts that cause perceptual distortions (this is a good way to be as an NLPER). As I unpacked how my friend had created AND held this as her experience it became clear that both the sub-modality experience of the memory and how she was chunking time had played a bit impact of her ability to keep the memory that way. A useful strategy I thought ..
By the way, NLP isn't only done by NLPers, everyone demonstrates processes we can describe as NLP. Indeed as NLPers, because we have labels for some of these things we can see "goldfish" in the fish bowl when there isn't any.
The key to getting good at anything is practice and repetition. Think of the formula like this:
Practice -> Learn From The Feedback -> RePractice until you can do it automatically.
Everyone who excels at anything, even if they have a massive natural talent will have gone through a similar pattern. Dr. Bandler and many other masters of NLP wrote out every language pattern in the 'book' and wrote down new examples when they heard them and wrote out their own over and over until they could do that language pattern with ease.
4. Be Playful
When you begin to take a playful attitude to learning NLP you will find that mastering the Meta Model or the Milton model etc becomes much easier. And what you practice you get good at, and as and when challenges come up for how to penetrate the things you are learning, you find yourself naturally discovering NEW ways and more powerful ways to do cool things. And then one day you will come to the realisation "you actually are very good at this stuff".
5. Chunk It To The Right Size
Your brain learns very quickly. Quicker than you can imagine and it is constantly learning and 'updating the map' on a day by day basis. Yet one of the key nuggets of wisdom from learning to master NLP is to take it in the right chunk size. For now, let me say that everything in NLP is related in one way or another to everything else (there is a connection for example between meta-programme and sub-modalities and modal operators and anchors etc). But for now you will want to start by picking an area that you want to get good at such as say language patterns, anchoring or change work and then focus on getting highly skilled at that.
Then once you have the foundations down (by the way, have you ever thought what are the foundation skils of NLP?), you can go on to get highly skilled at the other areas. NLP Times already offers great products on some of these topic's and I'm developing new products with input from myself and several masters of the field that you will be hearing about in the coming months.
For now, make a commitment today to start putting NLP into your every day life.